SMEs need policies tailored for growth to flourish: MRCCI

The Mandalay Region government needs to have specific policies to boost small-and-medium enterprises (SMEs) in order to attract and grow high-skilled jobs.

The Mandalay Region Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MRCCI) unveiled the 2019-2022 Mandalay Region Business Agenda last month suggested several initiatives including for taxation, regulations, labour and education that the regional government can adopt to boost competitiveness.

The MRCCI said the proposals were meant to give the regional government an insight from the business community into what the region needs to boost productivity and competitiveness.

The regional lobby group pointed out that SMEs in the region faced a number of obstacles to sustaining and growing their businesses such as high costs, financing, access to technology, red-tape, skilled workers, transparency and corruption.

The report noted that land and rental prices remained high and has crimped spending for innovation and growth.Many SMEs face difficulty in accessing credit, technology and land and, as a result, cannotbe competitive against imported goods nor do they have the resources to access overseas markets.

It suggested that the regional government develop zones specific to SMEs, lower interest rates for loans made available to such businesses and lower tax rates. Access to credit remains a sticking point with MRCCI vice-chair U Myat Htut saying that project and term loans will help these businesses. “The Central Bank of Myanmar must ease constraints on banks to lend,” he said.

The lobby group pointed out that the technology gap needed to be closed too, as textile factories in certain townships were still utilizing machinery from the 1970s. MRCCI member Daw Aye Aye Myint said more foreign direct investment in the manufacturing industries would help mitigate the technology imbalance that can assist in these businesses moving up the value chain and producing goods that can be sold in overseas markets.

Above all, the MRCCI stressed transparency for taxation. “Tax rules must be clear and transparent as many are not familiar with tax regulations. There must be more communication between the government and tax payers,” MRCCI central executive committee member U Thant Zin Oo said.

The MRCCI said skilled workers remain scarce in the region, proposing a programme to facilitate a transition to work from school that includes some sort of work experience within the education system as well as instilling an entrepreneurial mindset among students.

It proposed an acceleration to the implementation of the e-government system between now and 2022 to curb corruption and mismanagement of resources as well as provide better clarity for instructions within the government and between the government and, citizens.

The report said the tourism industry, an important contributor to the regional economy, remains key to developing the region, with tourists’ arrivals South Korea, China and Japan growing.

Other industries the government should focus on include agriculture, manufacturing, and gold and jewelry.

Source: Myanmar Times

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